Pause to learn about methanol in Tacoma

On February 19, Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW) asked the City of Tacoma to pause the environmental review for the proposed methanol plant on Port of Tacoma property. In its press release NWIW says “we have been surprised by the tone and substance of the vocal opposition that has emerged in Tacoma. To force a facility on a community that does not welcome it would not be consistent with our goals.” The City agreed to the pause and cancelled the February 24 public scoping meeting.

NWIW plans to engage the Tacoma community on this project over the next few months. At a February 18 Port of Tacoma Commission meeting, many people spoke against the project and several Port Commissioners also raised questions about it.

In May 2014 the Port and NWIW signed a 30-year lease. The lease’s feasibility period ends April 30, 2016. NWIW requested to extend the feasibility period, and the Port Commissioners will discuss it in a future meeting. The Port of Tacoma’s webpage provides more information, including links to the lease and the Feb. 18 commission meeting.

This pause is a great time to learn more about methanol. Several free events occur this week:

  • Health and environmental impacts of methanol refineries with Dr. Wilma Subra. Dr. Subra will give two free talks: Tues, Feb. 23 at 8 pm at St. Matthew Episcopal Church in NE Tacoma and Thurs, Feb. 25 at 6 pm at the University of Puget Sound. Please see this flyer for more information.
  • Science of methanol with the Center for Urban Waters. The Center for Urban Waters is holding a free discussion series on the science of the proposed methanol project. The next session — “potential impacts on regional water and power supplies” — takes place on Thurs, Feb. 25 at 6:00 pm. Speakers include Robert Mack, Tacoma Public Utilities; Eric de Place, Sightline Institute and Dan Kirchner, NW Gas Association. This session may be full but you can RSVP to get on a waiting list for this session or sign up for future sessions. Email questions in advance to Citizens for a Healthy Bay at or post to their Facebook and Twitter pages with the hashtag #253methanoltalk.

This information may be helpful when the environmental review resumes. In the meantime, the proposed methanol project is attracting media attention including:

Save Tacoma Water, a citizens initiative, will start collecting signatures for a ballot about water permits in early March. Initiative 4 would require organizations that apply for water permits to obtain voter approval if they plan to use one million gallons or more of water  per day. The proposed methanol plant in Tacoma would need approximately 10 million gallons of water per day.

** Engage Northwest does not work on this project and currently does not represent any of the parties listed in this blog.**